As many of you know, the parcel fabric concept has been around for quite some time but many have been slow or hesitant to adapt to it. In this entry, we would like to take a brief look at some of the advantages of using the fabric and try to answer some questions such as "Why should I migrate to the parcel fabric?" or "What real benefit will I receive from an ArcGIS solution for maintaining parcels?". If you haven't already done so, chances are you will soon be taking a serious look at what it takes for you to migrate your polygon parcels into this model.
1. It's A platform solution- One of the clear advantages of having a platform solution is that you don't have multiple vendors supplying multiple solutions. You already use the ArcGIS platform and pay a healthy maintenance subscription so why not take full advantage of the dollars you have invested in your COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) solution. You will not only save money from that end but there is a good chance you will be on the same page as your neighboring agency.
2. Everything is tied together- If you have been maintaining your parcels in a simple polygon layer you have undoubtedly found times when you have overlap in your polygons. This can cause many frustrations when editing and not to mention the spatial inaccuracies that come along with it. The fabric avoids overlaps by allowing your parcels and boundary lines to "move" all together. Instead of adjusting 4 different polygons when a corner point moves, why not tied it together so you only make one change everything else adjusts to that change. The fabric allows you to make these adjustments with ease saving you time and money.
3. The Parcel Editor Toolbar- esri has the parcel editor toolbar available as a free add-in that contains multiple tools and menu commands that help simplify the workflows involved with maintaining parcels and control points.
4. Parcel Workflows- The Parcel Editor Toolbar also contains a menu for automating parcel editing workflows. Merging parcels, splits, subdivisions, imports from CAD, and boundary line adjustments are all made easier using these workflows.
5. Tax Parcel Editing Map- All of the parcel types, whether, tax parcels, subdivisions, lots, or encumbrances (also known as easements) are stored in the fabric as one feature class, however they are separated by types and layers in a sample map you can download know as the Tax Parcel Editing Map.
6. The Plan Directory- Another freebee built into the parcel fabric data model is a table for storing information about record drawings, plans, survey plats, or other legal documents used by surveyors and engineers to describe their findings. This related table allows for user-friendly entry and interaction with the plan's corresponding parcels to store information such as Name of Surveyor, Survey Date, Document/Plan Numbers, etc. You can create and maintain plan record information for each parcel or subdivision within the fabric or take it one step further and link the source document directly to the GIS.
7. Spatial Accuracy- You might be telling yourself "I really don't need survey accuracy for my parcels" but with each control point you add to the fabric, whether from the City/Town, County, Private Surveyor, or Federal sources; it allows you to refine and adjust your parcel fabric for greater spatial accuracy. Its not uncommon to adjust your fabric over time and achieve spatial accuracies down to just a few inches or less with respect to the real world.
8. Historical Parcels- Many times we hear of the need to go back and look at what the parcel ID's or layout prior to a split or annexation. The parcel fabric has a layer specifically designed to maintain the historical parcels and the great thing is that its completely automated. When you step through the workflows it will prompt you if you want to create historic parcels from your new changes and by doing so it keeps a well documented history of your land records.
9. Local Government Information Model (LGIM)- The fabric allows you to enable information models such as the LGIM which many are already using. This may save you a lot of time up front so you don't have to 're-invent the wheel' providing out-of-the-box tools for working and interacting with your other land record data layers.
10. Standardization- Isn't it nice when we are all on the same page and speaking the same language. Using the parcel fabric allows us to have a consistent form of naming convention and storing data to help when we are interacting with our 'neighbors' or as GIS users or managers transition in and out of jobs its nice to have familiar data formats to build upon.
As you continue to expand your use of GIS technology, I hope you will find the parcel fabric as a very useful tool for maintaining land records in a clean and simplified format. We will be discussing the process of migrating your data to the parcel fabric and explain some "do's and don'ts" in an upcoming post.